One on One with VentureBeat’s Founder and CEO, Matt Marshall

April 6, 2015

By Matt Van Tassel, Business Wire

With over a year since Business Wire signed an exclusive wire partnership with VentureBeat, I thought this was a perfect

Matt Marshall, CEO and Founder

Matt Marshall, CEO and Founder

opportunity to sit down with Matt Marshall, the man behind this great news organization.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with our partner, VentureBeat is a powerful channel for Business Wire clients looking to engage venture capital funds and influencers. The highly targeted audience for VentureBeat includes potential investors, business decision-makers, tech industry leaders, and consumer enthusiasts with a keen interest in the latest innovative products and services. By adding news releases to VentureBeat, Business Wire clients gain access to the venture capital news mix, with stories aimed at VC-backed innovation, deal flow and liquidity.

Matt Marshall, Founder & CEO of VentureBeat, launched the website in 2006 in response to the lack of coverage in the entrepreneurial and tech space. Matt began his writing career with the Washington Post in 1994 and covered venture capital for the San Jose Mercury News prior to starting VentureBeat. In 2002, Matt was awarded “Journalist of the Year” by the Northern California Society of Professional Journalists. Matt’s impressive background, experience and passion were clearly evident when we spoke to him about VentureBeat.

Matt, give our readers a little background, what is VentureBeat?
VentureBeat is a media company that covers disruptive technology and why it matters in our lives. We are headquartered in San Francisco, with a news bureau in New York and staff writers in France and the United Kingdom. The company, now at 44 people, is divided into News, Events and Research. Events produces six events per year, targeting C-level executives and founders. VB Insight, our new, VC-backed research offering, focuses on reports tracking mobile monetization and marketing automation.

VentureBeat

VentureBeat

How did VentureBeat get started?
The company began in 2006 as a personal project. I was working at the San Jose Mercury News and blogging in my free time. This blog was the seed of what became VentureBeat.

Who is VentureBeat’s target audience?
VentureBeat is what I call a “B2B2C” play.

We target people who are already in the technology industry, along with those who aspire to be in it. As our conference participants show, our audience is comprised of C-level executives at leading technology startups, senior technologists at blue chip technology companies, investors, analysts and leading academics. Other notable participants include young people early in their technology careers, many of them starting their own companies, as well as regular folks interested in what’s happening at the forefront of innovation.

What kind of traffic volume do you receive – daily, weekly, monthly?
Our most recent numbers are 7.5 million uniques per month. Volume varies, of course, depending on the news or if we’re hosting a conference.

Is there a particular industry or sector that you gravitate towards (or perhaps is trending now)?

The general “beat” at VentureBeat is innovation. But lately, we’ve started focusing on the new technologies and strategies companies are using to achieve impressive growth, given the explosion of the smartphone and other channels.

Whether it is in the area of social, mobile or marketing automation, there are thousands of promising companies. As it has been with other market segments, our job has been to filter through those technologies, and report which ones are really working. We’re doing that through our news, but also our events, and increasingly our research initiative, called VB Insight.

What do you look for when you are going to write a story?
It goes back to innovation. If a company is disrupting an entrenched business, that’s a story. If a company aspires to change the world through online education or a health care device, that’s also a story. The bottom line is that we want to bring our readers the news from the front lines of this industry.Business Wire VB Logo

Does multimedia play an important role in VB’s reporting process?
We’re open to anything that gets the story across in a compelling way.

Is there a funding round or minimum amount of funding required for a story to be written?
We don’t play those games at VentureBeat. If a startup has an innovative value proposition, we will write about them. We don’t care if the company is two guys in a garage.

How does VentureBeat differentiate itself from other online news portals?
We distinguish ourselves in two ways: The first is that we bring old-fashioned shoe-leather journalism to a world moving at Internet speed.  We don’t rely on gossip or un-sourced pieces. We get the story fast, but we also get it in full.

The second difference is breadth of coverage.  We don’t just chase the next funding announcement. We do science pieces, stories that explore the human impact of technology, pieces that are often critical of the received values of the industry itself.

How is VentureBeat perceived versus competing websites, like TechCrunch or Wired?
TechCrunch is great, fast, and snarky. It’s also pretty loud, and sometimes had a hard time buckling down and covering the most innovative trends with serious analysis. That’s where we think VentureBeat adds greater value. You’ll see us go a lot deeper in areas of marketing technology, for example, where we bring in the expertise we’ve generated from our VB Insight research initiative. We bring a depth of insight that is unparalleled, because of our data set draws from tens of thousands of technology users. The same goes for Wired, to some extent. Wired covers a lot of cool, wonky stuff, which we also try to do. But they’re less focused on the business leader — that practitioner who really needs to get things done and needs to make critical decisions on the tech they’re using.

What is the most important benefit VentureBeat offers its readers? 
Our goal is to inform–and inspire.

What were some of the reasons that helped VentureBeat decide on moving forward with the Business Wire partnership?Press Releases on Venture Beat
There were two reasons: The first was your brand. The second was the community of sophisticated business users that support that brand.

What are some of the advantages for Business Wire clients posting their news releases to VentureBeat?
The chief advantage is direct access to one of the most sophisticated and influential technology/business audiences in the industry today: 35% of VB readers are C-level; 58% director-level and above; 70% have final purchasing power at their jobs.

How can VentureBeat contribute to driving brand awareness for our clients’ websites?
Again, it goes back to our audience. Their influence, combined with their engagement and regular sharing of content across their social channels, leads to that increased brand awareness.

To learn more about how your company’s news releases can benefit from Business Wire’s exclusive partnership with VentureBeat, click here.


Top 5 Things Journalists Look for in a News Release

April 6, 2015

By Vilan Trub, Business Wire

Journalists and media professionals get bombarded daily with emails and news releases. Those same journalists and media professionals also don’t have a lot of time. Make sure that you’re doing everything you can to grab their attention by giving them exactly what they’re looking for. What are they looking for?

Who are you?

Before you write your news release, you have to answer one big question.  What is the name of a great The Who song, the theme song to a CSI spin-off, and the question that every news release must answer?

Who are you?

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News is an industry of trust, so always ask yourself, why should journalists trust me? Treat a press release like a self-endorsement when trying to arrange a blind date. What are your best features and why would you (or your news release) be a perfect match for someone? It’s also good to have a trusted mutual friend, such as a newswire service, to make the introduction to your desired media outlet. Remember, you must woo a journalist with your release.

A key tip is to include a well-written boilerplate  at the bottom of your release. A boilerplate is a mini-bio of your company that lets the reader know exactly what you do.

A Headline Comes First
Before a journalist reads your release, they first see the headline. The headline is like a trailer to a movie, one that is well made will garner the interest of the audience. A bad headline, however, is the last thing that gets read before a journalist moves on to their next email.

A good tip for putting together a strong headline is to remember what the reader is looking for: information. Avoid using click-bait tactics because media pros have developed a keen sense of what to look out for. There are good reads online about the difference between click-bait and a well-made news releases, so make sure to be on the lookout.

CoSchedule Headline Analyzer

There is even an online headline analyzer by CoSchedule to help you craft the perfect headline that hooks the reader in and doesn’t let go.

The Ws
Journalists aren’t looking to read Moby Dick when opening your news release. Today’s reporters are looking for two key 5 Wselements.  They want to know the facts, and they want to know the story behind the facts – the one that tells why the product was made, who it impacts, what that impact was and why it would impact the publication’s core audience.  This is when you turn to your “W”s!

Who, what, where, when, and why is an exercise taught in elementary schools so that students can get a grasp of how to break down a story to its most basic and relevant elements. Use this same exercise when drafting your release because journalists don’t want to go looking for key story elements. By reducing the amount of work needed for a third party to tell your story you will find a much higher likelihood of coverage and engagement with your news.

Social Sharing

Social Media is Honey – Use It
Every news release is designed to attract readers. In the digital age, social media has become a swap meet where information is traded free of charge. Including social media links to your news release gives people the opportunity to easily distribute your news, the very same news you want covered by journalists. The name of the game is reach so make it easier for people to distribute and redistribute your release.

Multimedia
Cavemen didn’t write paragraphs about the beauty of horses. They made drawings on cave walls that are easy to understand even today! Believe it or not, that was the earliest form of multimedia.

Thanks to technical and mobile device advancements and penetration, humans are creating and consuming multimedia at unheard of rates. When thinking about crafting your press release, you must understand that multimedia supplements are no longer optional. Reporters and consumers use multimedia to create emotional connections and to showcase the real “why” behind your news.

In a 2014 Business Wire study of more than 300 journalists and media professionals, more than half (54%) are more likely to review a press release that includes multimedia than one that does not. The preferred media are photographs, by a staggering 73% of those participating in the survey.

bizwiremultimedia

But even multimedia is changing. With more than 63% of the world being visual and interactive learners, static multimedia is being replaced with interactive assets such as the Business Wire News and Picture Capsules that create engagement opportunities for newsreaders. These capsules are so engaging that the average viewer is now spending between 4-10 minutes per Capsule, just consuming the related content they host. Check out the one Six Flags used to announce one of their famous roller coasters would be running backwards for a limited time.

Batman

Hundreds of news releases are sent out each day, make sure that your next one stands out. Follow these steps to grab the reader and make sure that they’re getting, and sharing your message.


ICYMI: Meet The Washington D.C. Tech Media

April 3, 2015

By Simon Ogus, Business Wire

As a technology reporter in the digital age, life has become pretty crazy. You are expected to be an early adapter to the new tech toys, be an early adapter and work non-stop in today’s 24/7 news cycle.

mediarelations

 

Hoping to bridge the gap between the reporter and the PR professional, Business Wire Washington, DC hosted a “Meet the Technology” media panel on focusing on the latest trends in the world of technology reporting.  The panel consisted of five established names in the Washington, DC technology reporting industry and the topics discussed included how reporters utilize social media professionallyhow to effectively organize a pitch and the best ways to get a reporter’s attention in today’s non-stop news cycle.

Speakers:
Paul Sherman, Editor and Publisher of Potomac Tech Wire – @PaulRSherman
Kasra Kangarloo, Reporter, Washington Business Journal – @TechFlashWBJ
Rob Pegoraro – Columnist, Yahoo! Tech – @RobPegoraro
Joseph Marks – Reporter, Politico – @Joseph_Marks_
Hayley Tsuyakama – Reporter, Washington Post – @htsuka

How Reporters Prefer to Be Pitched
The panel began with how reporters can ideally and most efficiently be pitched in the current times. The near unanimous sentiment was that pitching by e-mail was preferred over phone and social media. Paul Sherman flatly said that “phone pitching, while not dead is much rarer these days”.  Every panelists agreed.  Phone calls with pitches often will fall through the cracks as the reporter might not be at their desk or lose track of the phone call or message throughout their busy day.

Photo by Jennifer Dunn

Photo by Jennifer Dunn

Hayley Tsuyakama noted that she liked receiving emails from PR pros “because those pitches can be saved if I am busy, flagged if I want to make sure I see them later and easily searchable through modern e-mail capabilities.” This illustrates a strong point about email, even if they aren’t used immediately, they can be found easily via keyword searches of the e-mail text, subject or sender’s contact information.

But email is not the only way to reach reporters.  When the conversation turned to the role of newswires in the news gathering process, each of the panelists agreed that newswires offer a wide range of benefits over releases pitched directly by the individual company.  Sherman said he “uses Business Wire as a source every day.”  In addition, the speakers noted that newswires are both convenient and a good source of accurate information.

What to include in your pitch
Knowing how to pitch a reporter also immensely aided by knowing where the reporter gathers news ideas and what kinds of topics and trends they find important. Ultimately a public relations professional may love their own story or find it extremely important, but it is up to the reporter to determine if they want to cover it.  So what is a pitch that will catch a reporter’s eye? Rob Pegoraro said If I can learn something myself and teach my readers at the same time, then I have found a great story to cover.” Reporters are busier than ever trying to uncover impactful story ideas. As Sherman said “competitors are not just other outlets, but social media as well. Anyone is a source now with smartphones, the job is much more competitive in 2015.” So how does this affect the PR professional? Reporter’s time is now more valuable than ever, so getting your message across takes additional strategy and tactics. While the content of your story will be what gets you covered, the panelists did provide a few other ways to catch their attention.

Meet the DC Tech Media

Provide an Expert Marks said “Being able to provide an expert to your pitch is very important, it is great to learn stuff from a pitch that you don’t already know. If your spokesperson has great credentials, feel free to pitch anytime, not just when a breach happens in my cybersecurity reporting.” This is a strong message for all communicators  always try to have an expert at your disposal for technical pitches as they will help to catch the eye of the reporter trying to explain complex content matter.

Be Easy to Find
Additionally Kasra Kangarloo said being active on Twitter is important for communications skills. “It’s easier to find a @twitter profile than an email address, so I may reach out by tweet instead of email.” As well all know Twitter is the main hub of spontaneous communication, so having an active presence could get you that dialogue going with a reporter that could eventually lead to coverage for your client.

Leverage Partners (and don’t forget to include financial data)
The conversation shifted to Kangarloo’s coverage of technology startups and what he looks for in a good new startup to cover for the Business Journal. He had some great advice for anyone trying to get media coverage for a newer startup. He said “Get your name out there, I want to hear you from someone else. Not from yourself, anyone can talk about themselves. Hearing about your startup from someone else will pique my interest.” He also reminded the audience that data such as revenue is key for securing coverage, especially for today’s startups.

Read Your Pitch, First (on a mobile device) 
While the subject matter of the news release is always paramount, the panel did mention some tips on best practices to get them interested in a story.  Pegoraro Reminded the audience that most reporters work off mobile devices and suggested PR professionals read their pitch on their own mobile device to ensure the most salient points appear at the top of the device.

As the discussion came to a close there was an interesting question from the audience about what defines journalistic success in 2015. Lots of outlets strictly look at click-rates which often times leads to stories that perhaps aren’t the most informed content on the web. The reporters responded honestly and the majority said they were very aware of their analytics for their stories and that plays a major role in how their performance has been, but there is more to the process. Pegoraro said “making readers smart is a focus of journalistic success in additional to analytics.” This tweet from the event also goes on to say what additional words were said on the topic.

Journalism today has changed.  Reporters are expected to do more, in less time.  Crafting interesting pitches, tailored to each media outlet’s needs and utilizing smart distribution methods will help you increase your coverage and overall visibility.  For additional commentary on this discussion please check out the hashtag #bwchat.


PR Tip: How to Keep Track of the Universe of Tech Events

March 31, 2015

by Travis Van, Founder, ITDatabase and Vilan Trub, Business Wire

It’s getting hard to even think of tech as an “industry” anymore.

Tech is much bigger than any one vertical (like automotive or financial services). Tech’s more like a galaxy or universe. And keeping track of the tech industry’s tens of thousands of events is like trying to count stars in the sky.

As technology has become “horizontal” and deeply impacts every single industry, Business Wire’s Trade Show Group has seen an explosion of events. Mega-shows like CES, Mobile World Congress and a handful of others are hugely important – but today, most important tech companies are also event organizers, and every technology that has any sort of inertia has its own dedicated user groups and regional workshops.

TradeShow Calendar 2

For the modern marketing and PR pro, promoting technology requires knowing the most important events that matter to the audience(s) you’re targeting – and this task has truly become a nightmare. You have to discover events, you have to qualify their importance and relevance, and you have to stay on top of dates and deadlines.

Everyone knows about CES, but how do you discover the new wearables conferences that are being hosted by top tier vendors and investors? Everyone knows about OSCON, but how do you find all of the influential hackathons that attract open source developers at regional levels?  Each industry has its well-known behemoths, but then at the next-level the important (but smaller) and new (but hot) events are the needles in the haystack….

To address this obvious pain point for tech companies, Business Wire has co-created TechCalendar – a new directory of tech events that is much more comprehensive and easy to use than any other available method. We’ve isolated the hardest parts of discovering and tracking tech events and boiled it down into a much simpler workflow. With this tool, you can find all the tech events or awards relevant to you by simply searching keywords, topics, in the tech industry’s most comprehensive database (12,000 events and growing every day).

TechCalendar 2015 Example

In addition to keeping track of industry events, TechCalendar allows you to also follow organizers and topics that match your interests so that all opportunities are accessible with a single click. And you can integrate your TechCalendar with your calendar client (Outlook, Google Calendar, etc.) and share calendars with everyone on your team (or export to .CSV / Excel).

For tech companies, the pain of tracking tech events is universal. No one has time these days to try to track all of this manually, in spreadsheets. If you’ve found yourself struggling to find your way in the universe of tech events, give TechCalendar a look.

Click here to tell your colleagues about TechCalendar: http://ctt.ec/kUiCU

Learn everything you need to know about increasing visibility and impact while at trade shows by downloading our guide at: http://go.businesswire.com/Tradeshow-Publicity-Guide 


5 Tips for Building Brand Believers

March 20, 2015

By Vilan Trub, Business Wire

Bernadette Morris, CEO and President of Black PR Wire, and Raschanda Hall, Director of Global Media Relations at Business Wire, cohosted a conference spotlighting the best practices in multicultural marketing. Hall explained that it was important to understand how to tap into the Black market because “according to Target Market News, the Black American economy already represents the 20th largest market in the world.” The event was initially described as a webinar on how to best reach the Black market, however, what resulted was a fantastic discussion that applied to all developing campaigns, reflecting how connected society has become in a digital world.

  1. Multicultural Markets are more Connected than Ever Before

Communications professional Danyele L.C. Davis, Vice President of Flowers Communications Group, explained that multicultural markets are more connected than ever before.

“The one thing I really want to dispel is that total market is not general market.”

Flowers Communication Group has successfully implemented the Cultural Fusion Model: Assess, Embrace, and Customize. Targeting minority markets the way they were targeted in the past is outdated and destined to alienate your target audience. Millennials see themselves completely differently and the best way to reach them is to assess cultural nuances.

  1. Who Influences Your Target Market?

Courtney Cunningham, Esq., Co-Founder and Managing Director of Commonground/MGS, explained that minorities, like all people, are influenced by region, religion, and upbringing. He referenced a series of commercials in which a Black male is shown failing at many attempts to use household products to do some basic cleaning. This example showcases how a target market is not being effectively reached because the people behind the advertising campaign have a misconception that minority males do not know how to take care of a household. He compared his reaction when watching the commercials to that of a professional lawyer watching a highly dramatized courtroom drama. The result is that you know what you are watching is fake, a stereotype.

  1. Don’t Just Target Your Market, Go to Them!

Danyele L.C. Davis brings up the example of technology and faith. The accepted idea was that cell phones had no place in church. It was considered a big “no-no.” That notion has since changed and the only way to know that is to be immersed in the community. The result was a newfound knowledge that Bible apps and selfies are regularly being used as a mode to connect in church and are quickly becoming integral to the faith community. It was the authenticity behind her attempts to understand this community that led her to identify current trends and make an impact with the #inspiredmobility campaign.

  1. Employees Must Be Brand Ambassadors

Alicia R. Alston, Vice President of Global Communications at Prudential Financial, Inc., stressed the importance of authenticity when attempting to build a connection with a market. She expressed that creating a legitimate and lasting connection with a market can only occur when the people responsible for implementing a campaign have a clear understanding of both the target market and their respective community. Alston makes the point that “employees be brand ambassadors for us” in regards to how employees should represent their respective companies.

  1. There’s More Than One Type of Marketing

Amber Bullock, Executive VP, Community & Youth Engagement for American Legacy Foundation, has been engaged in what is called counter marketing. American Legacy Foundation has been behind the easily recognized Truth anti-tobacco campaign, aimed at educating and influencing the public by exposing the dangers of using tobacco products. Bullock believes that to be successful in today’s world of communication, the emphasis must be placed on people and not the product.

The hour-long conference was followed by half an hour of question and answer. There was a clear consent amongst the group that the communication landscape is changing and it is important to understand what those changes are in order to connect with any target market. The millennial generation is not only forcing the industry to rethink the concept of multicultural marketing, but marketing in a much broader sense. Ultimately, all marketing is target marketing because the idea of a general market is one that is at best misconceived.

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Google Update Emphasizes Editorial Coverage in Mobile Search Results

March 4, 2015

Last week Google started rolling out a change to mobile search results that includes a stronger emphasis on fresh news articles featuring the company, or term searched.  In this update, Google now puts the information that persuades customers the fastest right into the top half of search results.

Blog 1

The role of Mobile in the Conversion Funnel
A 2014 study from Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council and NetLine Corporation found that 62% of B2B buyers use mobile devices to seek out content to stay abreast of industry changes and 60% use them to find solutions to existing problems.  The IDG Global Mobile Survey 2014 shows that 86% of decision makers and executives use tablets for business-related research while 72% used mobile phones.

Given the increased reliance on mobile devices in the purchase cycle, communication and marketing professionals must be aware of how their company and content appear in search results. The better placement this material receives, the better chance for sales and marketing conversions.

The Role of Coverage in the Conversion Funnel
In 2014, Nielsen and InPowered studied how editorial coverage stacked up against other types of corporate marketing content such as branded content and user reviews. In each instance, editorial coverage showed to be more effective at increasing awareness, increasing brand affinity and purchase intent.

blog 2

Previously, Google search results looked like this image on the left. As you can see, Google included, when possible, a knowledge graph within the search results to provide a wider range of context to the search term.

Google now utilizes a carousel to present recent articles, videos and more on a particular topic. This format allows the search user to receive a wider array of more useful recent information, while the results appear in a clear, concise manner and fit within the size limitations of the device on hand.

We are excited to see additional emphasis on editorial coverage, without pushing other important search results farther down the page.  Of course, just like all Google updates, it’s key to remember that this change is still rolling out and will most likely evolve based on user search behavior, but we’ll continue to monitor and update you on changes as occur.


Studies Show Reporters Rely on Press Releases — Are You Providing Them With What They Need?

February 21, 2015

By Serena Ehrlich, Director of Social + Evolving Media, Business Wire

In this day and age, there really should be no question on how to garner media coverage. Yet, day after day, organizations distribute news releases that lack the information needed for the reporter to initiate coverage.  In this PR Week article, Jahana Hayes, from Business Wire Atlanta, shares six ways to make sure your press releases hit, and activate, your target audience.

Read the entire piece at PR Week:  http://www.prweek.com/article/1332549/six-straightforward-ways-sure-press-releases-hitting-target

bizwirepressreleaseprefs


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